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Oscar Schindler & Schindler's Factory: ul. Lipowa 4

The man and his story were made famous by Spielberg's film, Schindler's List.  In many ways he was a man of contradiction.  At the beginning of the war Schindler seemed to be intent on making a fortune from the misery that was unfolding around him.  In common with other Germans, Schindler took over companies that were previously in the hands of Jewish owners, in this case two enamel kitchenware companies.

In October 1939 the "Emalia" factory was established in the Zablocie district of Krakow.  It produced enamel kitchenware and was one of the factories that Schindler had taken over.  Using his business contacts and the cheap labour that was available to him Schindler made a fortune.  He lived the life of a very successful businessman and took every opportunity to enjoy his success being a regular fixture on the social scene.

The brutality of the Nazi regime brought about a change in Schindler from a man whose sole concern was profit into a man who made it his mission to save as many lives as he could.  

Whenever Schindler's workers were threatened with deportation to the death camps he could claim exemptions for them based on the fact that his business was deemed to be essential to the war effort.  Without this status it is unlikely that Schindler would have been able to save as many people as he did. Where necessary, and at great risk to himself, Schindler falsified his company's records.  For example, workers listed as experts in mechanics were in fact children. This courageous course of action saved many from certain death.

When the Krakow Ghetto was liquidated in March 1943, Schindler used his close relationship with the camp commander at Plaszow (Amon Goeth) to set up a branch of the camp within his factory compound.  In spite of everything that was going on around him Schindler managed to ensure decent treatment for his workers.

In October 1944 and with the approach of the Soviet Army, Schindler was granted permission to re-establish his factory in Brünnlitz, in the Sudetenland (now known as Brnenec which is located in the Czech Republic).  However, before his workers could join him there they were sent to Gross Rosen (a concentration camp near Wroclaw) and Auschwitz.  Remarkably, Schindler secured their release and yet again saved the lives of his workforce.  In total, around 1100 people went to Schindler's new factory in Brünnlitz where they were treated as well as conditions allowed.

A truly heroic man, his factory still exists and can be found at ul Lipowa 4. (Plac Bohaterow Getta tram stop).  To walk there takes about 20-30 minutes from Kazimierz.

Anyone who makes the trip to the factory will have the opportunity to view a slideshow based on Schindler, as well as sign a guestbook which is located on the upper floor of the building.


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